The McNeill Family: Edmonton

Written by Harold McNeill on October 6th, 2013. Posted in Family 1940 1965

Edmonton Street LocationsLaura McNeill and Mr. Goodrich42

The McNeill Family: Edmonton/h1>

H.A. Gray School

Photo (From Web): The stately H.A. Gray Elementary School in Edmonton where Mom registered Louise and I in late August, 1949. It was a far cry from our one room school in Harlan, SK (see Chapter 2). Also, reference footer photo for comparison to a similar building in Victoria.

Link to Next Post: Pibroch
Link to Last Post: Dad is Missing (Last of Part IV)
Link to Family Stories Index
Link to the Old School House (First in the Harlan Series)


Chapter 1: The Gypsy Years

When Dad and Mom (Dave and Laura McNeill) took Louise and me 1 to live with Aunt Liz and Uncle Warren, in Harlan, Saskatchewan early in the spring of 1949, it was the first time we were separated from our parents. While we had made many moves in our short lives, this was just the beginning of being away from them for various periods of time ranging from a few months, to nearly a year. Our lives became a whirlwind of short-term home stays, new schools and new friends, many of whom remained steadfast for the rest of our lives.

Even our old pal Shep, the amazing Collie Cross, was left far behind in the care of our good friend Mr. Goodrich, our trapper neighbour at Marie Lake (A Final Farewell). Although the loneliness of being separated from Mom, Dad, Shep and our wilderness way of life, left a gapping hole in our lives, we had every reason to believe the hole would be filled once we settled in Edmonton.

Well, things did not turn out as planned and, in fact, Edmonton would bring the near death of our Mom and her younger sister, Aunt Marcia and the death of our one our best friends.

1Aunt Liz’s first husband Tart, a rodeo bronco rider, had passed away a few years earlier and Aunt Liz, Dad’s sister, had married Dad’s friend Warren Harwood around the time we were all living north of Cold Lake. (Smith Place)

1. Goodbye to Harlan and off to a New Home in Edmonton

Although we had been terribly homesick during our first few weeks in Harlan, we also had a lot of fun over that few months as it meant being reunited with our cousins Betty and Stanley (Dewan)1 with whom we had lived for nearly two years when our parentscold lake warren liz wedding 2 partnered in a mink and fox ranch on the north shore of Cold Lake.

Photo (June 27, 1947).  Liz and Warren are married with Mom and Dad standing up for them. The wedding took place in Cold Lake.

We knew our stay at Harlan would be brief, as the lives of Aunt Liz, Uncle Warren, Betty and Stan, like ours, had turned into a series of short-term stays in various towns and cities around Alberta and Saskatchewan as our parents chased jobs.  It had not always been so, but the world had changed rapidly during the late thirties and forties, following the depression, then World War II.

The original homesteads like that of our grandparents, the Wheeler’s and McNeill’s who had ten and eleven children respectively (2), could not support all those children once they had grown, nor was there enough arable land onto which those children could start their own farms and families. Almost all had left, not to seek fame and fortune, but simply to find a source of steady work. Dad stayed longer than most as he tried to help his aging mother after his father had passed away. Chapter 3 of the Birch Series described what it was like for my father. Link: A Place in the Sun.

That all changed when his mother had taken up with another man, a near-do-well who ingratiated himself into her life, then, a  couple of years later,  bilked her out of her farm equipment and what meagre possessions she had left.  By that time Dad had already taken his young family to Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, where he worked as a Fire Ranger  (Link to The Fire Tower). Dad never returned to the family homestead, nor the quarter section he had cultivated in his own right. Having gone back over the records of that time it appears dad’s farm was eventually sold for back taxes.

His aging mother (my grandmother) lived out her final years in Battleford, Saskatchewan, the city to which she moved after losing the farm. From that point our family continued to hop, skip and jump around Saskatchewan and Alberta until Louise and I ended up in Harlan a few months earlier while Mom and Dad were working on road construction in south central Alberta.

Then, in late August 1949, they returned briefly to pick us up and take us to Edmonton to live with another Uncle and Aunt. For the two Clifford and Jean for Blogof us, living in Edmonton would be a totally new experience as, other than a couple of short visits to Edmonton and one to Calgary for the Stampede, we had never been in a town larger than Cold Lake or Bonnyville (both in Alberta). For that matter, most of our short lives had been spent living in wilderness areas north of Cold Lake and on the west side of Marie Lake (Series Thumbnails).  But, Edmonton it was going to be, so we were soon settled in with Uncle Clifford and Auntie Jean (Wheeler).

Photo (1950’s) This photo of Aunt Jean and Uncle Clifford (Wheeler) was likely taken in Edmonton a few years after Louise and I had moved on. The little girl is Donna with her brother Terry. You can’t see it very well, but Uncle Clifford had a large brown birth mark over his left eye.  As the story goes, Grandma Wheeler (mom’s mother) was certain the birthmark was a result of a scare she received while pregnant with Clifford. That scare came about when one of her younger children nearly fell off the wagon when crossing the Saskatchewan River at North Battleford when the family was moving to Alsask to Meadstead to homestead.  (Link: The Early Years)

Uncle Cliff, in his mid-twenties and Aunt Jean still in her teens, had recently moved to Edmonton as job prospects in that city were very good. The city was a transportation hub for the rapidly developing north and with the population climbing over 130,000, an exciting place to be for a young couple just starting a life together. They had no children so had offered to look after us until Mom and Dad returned from their construction jobs sometime after freeze up. Perhaps for Uncle Cliff and Auntie Jean just wanted to test the child-rearing thing and, it seems, we did not turn them against children (except for one incident as presented in Chapter 3, below) as their first child, a daughter, Donna, was born in 1952, while they still lived in Edmonton.


1 With eleven children in dad’s family and ten in mom’s, Louis and I had something in the order of 42 Aunts and Uncles (not counting divorce and remarriage) and by the time all the children of those Aunts and Uncles were counted, about 70 first cousins.  While Louise and I met nearly all the Aunts and Uncles, we have only directly connected with about three-quarters of the cousins.  As of 2013, there is one surviving sibling on my Dad’s side (Aunt Pat) and two on Mom’s (Aunt Marcia and Aunt Helen).

2. Back to School: The H.A. Gray Elementary

Aunt Jean and Uncle Cliff’s home on 97th Street, just a bit north of 118th Avenue, was only a few blocks from the H.A. Gray Elementary at 121st Avenue and 103rd Street 1. (reference Map in the footer). When Mom took us over to register (1), we were came face to face with this monster elementary school that had separate entrances for boys and girls, with the gender names etched in stone over the heavy wooden doors.

harlan school harlan sk. 1949

While our new school still had a ‘school smell’ inside, the high ceilings, dark colours and wood panelled walls, was a far cry from the one-room, clapboard school sitting in the middle of a prairie field just outside Harlan.  You could fit fifty of Harlan schools inside the H.A. Gray.

Photo (Web):  Harlan school is preserved today as it was in 1949 when Betty, Louise, Stanley and I attended. The two kids standing next to the school could very well be Betty and Louise (Betty was a few years older and much taller than Louise). (Harlan Series)

As a special treat, our new school, like Uncle Clifford and Aunt Jean’s home, had indoor toilets, electricity and running water, something none of our previous homes in the wilderness or our home in Harlan, ever had. Outdoor toilets, even in the freezing cold winter was the norm so it was a novelty to ‘flush’ a toilet and to run hot water into a sink to wash our hands.  I must have flushed the toilet fifty times in the first week just to watch the water swirl down. Also, to have a roll of toilet paper rather than crumpled up newspaper or an old catalogue, was heaven.

While the registration went smoothly, there was one major glitch as far as I was concerned: “Grade 2! Mom, you can’t be serious?” Well serious she was and I knew full well the teacher in Harlan had steadfastly refused to advance me beyond Grade 2. The reason Louise McNeillwas simple. Because I had only “officially” completed three and a half months in Grade 1, and had not studied any ‘official’ Grade 2 work, I was not eligible to be advanced. There were, it seems, strict rules governing advancement, rules, not unlike the Girls and Boys entrances etched in stone over the doors of our new school.

Photo (from Louise Yochim):  Louise was around six years old when the photo taken so was likely taken in Edmonton.

While Louise and I were still very close, I didn’t relish having to spend a full year sitting in class with her as she was far to quick for me. I suppose Mom must have said something during the registration process as my concerns were resolved when Louise and I were assigned to different classrooms.

Seeing as I would be stuck in Grade 2 for the full year, there was no way I was going to let all those little kids do better than I. Fortunately, I was small for my age so I didn’t totally stand out like a sore thumb. Still, it was a humbling experience as for most of my life I had been given responsibilities that were considered far beyond my years. Now, in school, I was doing what I considered to be ‘kid’ stuff. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

As I strived to complete my assignments and ace the exams, there was one incident that always stuck in my mind. We had just written some kind of a math quiz and when the teacher handed back the papers, a little girl with whom I always seemed to be in competition, began to cry.  She had just found that once again I had received a slightly higher mark on quiz. I have no idea why I remember that, perhaps because I was almost three years older and had been studying this stuff much longer, I felt sorry for her.

Exams you might well ask? Well “yes” exams were very much a part of everyday life in elementary school in the late 1940s.  Looking back from this point in my life, it didn’t hurt my ego (some think it is far to large), but neither do I think the exams helped me to better learn the subjects. What was much harder on me was being stuck in a system that did not allow kids to advance to their level of ability. Mom certainly understood the concept.

Back in our wilderness home at Marie Lake, she was a caring and capable teacher. Although she must not have realized it was strictly necessary to complete the government paperwork, she was, never-the-less, responsible for advancing me, and later Louise, through the first two grades in a manner that would have challenged any elementary school teacher.  But that was then and this was now, so I had to make do as best I could.

Back on the home front, our Aunt and Uncle were also as caring and loving as Uncle Warren and Aunt Liz, so Louise and I managed to settle in pretty well. However, I remember one small incident when Aunt Jean had a total melt down.  She had this little dog, ‘Tippy” or whatever was his name, a yappy little thing that was pampered beyond belief.  I think – no, I known – that dog understood I did not like him as he always seemed to taunt me. Tippy was well aware that Tippy could do whatever Tippy wanted as Aunt Jean would never, ever think of scolding him.  If I even tried, Auntie Jean would scold me instead.  It was a face-off that Tippy always won.


1 Louise and I first joined the regular school system in Harlan, Saskatchewan, around March, 1949 (six months before this story began), where we both completed Grade 1.  For the full story of our early school days go to: Harlan School Days

3. What a dog will do to get attention?

One day when we were returning from downtown and driving along 97th Street, Aunt Jean lifted Tippy over the seat telling me that, “Tippy, wants to sit in the back for awhile.” Of course, I knew what Tippy really wanted, he wanted to jump into the back to irritate me.

I had my window rolled down as we were having a bit of a hot spell, so Aunt Jean warned me to watch Tippy that didn’t fall out. Fall out? How on earth could a little dog about eight inches high, sitting in the middle of the car ‘fall out’, after all the window was two feet away and two feet above his head. Fall out? Not possible!

The dog was fidgeting away between Louise and I and I was considering flicking him in the back of the head with my fingers just as Mom would sometimes flick me. But I knew if I did that, Tippy would just yelp and Auntie Jean would scold me.  Now, can you believe it, that little squirt of a dog suddenly jumped up on my lap and was out the window before you could say Jack Spratt?

Aunt Jean must have been turned a bit, for as soon as she saw the dog disappear out the window she began to scream bloody murder. It scared the living bejesus (one of Mom’s favourite words) out of Uncle Clifford who had no idea what had happened. Aunt Jean was screaming at him to stop the car. As I turned around, I could see the little dog doing cartwheels down the middle of 97th Street.  We had been travelling at a normal speed, perhaps 30 or 40 mph, and the traffic was moderately heavy, so it took Uncle Clifford a few seconds to pull to the curb and stop.  I could see the traffic behind had managed to miss the little fur ball as he struggled to stand up in the middle lane.

Before Uncle Cliff came to a stop, Aunt Jean had jumped out and was running back down the street screaming and waving at the cars weaving around the dog and then her. By the time she grabbed Tippy, Uncle Clifford was out the door and heading back toward the two. Uncle Clifford’s next challenge in life was getting Aunt Jean, who was still hysterical, off the road and settled down.  Even though it appeared Tippy had survived his near death experience, my next challenge would be finding a new place to live.

Later, as I thought about the incident, I was convinced the dog had jumped out the window just to spite me.  I swear to God that every time that sneaky, little dog looked at me, he would give a sly smile and wink, just as Shep used to do.  Oh, it would be so good to have Shep back in our lives as Shep would have taught that little shit of a dog a thing or two.

While Aunt Jean had been upset for a while, she finally settled down and things got back to normal at in the Wheeler home.

4. Near Death Experience

Over our short lives, our immediate family members experienced more than a few nasty turns that, for the most part, we managed to survive with minimal damage. Mom had been badly burned at Marie Lake (Explosion) and Dad had nearly died in a car accident in Cold Lake (Crash on Highway 28). Both carried scars from those accidents, but their was no long lasting damage. Twice in her short life, once at Primrose Lake and once on the north side of Cold Lake, Louise had been on the brink of death (A Winter Dash to the Hospital) and (Life or Death on the Dock).  Edmonton would bring new challenges.

Laura McNeill and Mr. GoodrichIn early November Uncle Cliff and Aunt Jean told us Mom and Dad would be moving back to Edmonton within the week. It was the best news we had had since leaving Harlan, but only after they arrived did Dad tell us he was only staying for a few days, then leaving for Lac La Biche to go commercial fishing.

I begged him to take me with him and I think he was even considering it, but Mom put her foot down and told him in no uncertain terms that I had to finish the school term, as I was already two years behind.  To provide some solace, Dad told me that he would arrange to get Shep to Edmonton.  Of course, being re-united with Shep would make life much easier.

During the interim period, it had been settled that Louise and I would continue living with Aunt Jean and Uncle Cliff until after Christmas as Mom and her younger sister, Aunt Marcia (Hartley), both had jobs lined up at one of the downtown department stores.

Photo (1949, Steet Photo): Laura McNeill, Mr. Goodrich and an unknown woman (likely a co-worker of mom).

The two had rented a small basement suite close by until Uncle Al, Marcia’s military husband who stationed at the Supply Depot in Griesback Barracks, returned from a posting somewhere in the Middle East.

Over the next few weeks we would only see Mom on her on days off she was working long hours in the afternoon and evening in the lead-up to Christmas and we were always in bed by the time she finished work.  While we really missed her, at least we got to see her every week for a couple of days.

Then, one day Uncle Clifford told us that Mom and Marcia were both in the hospital and that he and Aunt Jean would take us to see them. He was very reassuring, but the last time we had seen Mom in the hospital, she hovered on the edge of death after being seriously burned. Fortunately, that was not the case this time, as both were just being kept for observation for a day as they had been overcome by a natural gas that leaded in the basement apartment in which they were living.

We were told later that something had broken on the gas furnace in the basement of the home and they were lucky to have survived. No No one would have got out, except that Mom had to go to work early that morning and her alarm clock roused she and Aunt Marcia before they were both fully overcome. The two had staggered outside, woke others in the house and all were rushed to hospital.  Other than being very sick for a couple of days, they were soon back at work.  Life was back to normal.

5. Shep disappears

In January 1950, Mom and Marcia rented a little house on 95th Street near 122 Avenue, not far from Uncle Clifford’s home. At that time the block on which the house sat was at the very north, northwest edge of the city1. Beyond our street, farm fields and Louise McNeill and Shepbush defined area, a perfect spot for Shep and me to explore, perhaps even set a few snares for rabbits. The problem, day after day, Shep did not return. Each day as I patiently waited, I would ask mom and sometimes dad when Shep would arrive, but they never gave a direct answer.

Photo (Marie Lake, Winter, 1949):  Louise and Shep waiting for a ride on Harold’s dual wheeled wagon.

What happened to Shep is still a murky question that was never fully answered. I was told that Mr. Goodrich had dropped the dog off at the house on 95 Street sometime shortly after Christmas and, but, apparently, he had run away and not been found.

A few weeks later (it could have been months), I was told that Shep had made his way back to our Marie Lake home, the only home he had ever known. The distance, about 200 miles as the crow flies and in the dead of winter, must have taken him a few weeks. Dad said that when Shep showed up at Marie Lake, he was in such bad shape that the owner of the mink ranch shot him thinking that he may have had distemper, an infection which could kill every mink on the ranch.

Whatever happened, my childhood buddy was gone forever.  Neither would Louise or I ever see our old friend Mr. Goodrich again as he died before we returned to Cold Lake a few years later.  Mom and Dad met him once around Christmas (above photo) but we never met him on that visit.

Dad had returned to Edmonton shortly after we moved into the 95th Street house and was now working at a mink ranch somewhere in South Edmonton along the North Saskatchewan River. As it was some distance away and the hours were long, so Dad often stayed over at the ranch rather than making the long trek back by street car and bus. When he was home, the six of us (Mom, Dad, Aunt Marcia, Uncle Al, Louise and I) pretty much filled the little house at Harold and Louise McNeill12237-95th Street. We would continue to live there until the end of the school year.

Photo (by Mom, January,1950).  Louise and Harold on porch of our temporary home.  I think Louise is standing on my immediate left.

During that time we lived there, Mom became close friends with the family across the street, the Pesters. That winter and spring Louise and I used to walk to school with their oldest daughter, Bonnie.

The friendship between Mom and Mable Pester would last until Mable passed away some forty or fifty years later.  Also, during that time, Louise and I became very close with Aunt Marcia and Uncle Allen, as they continued living in Edmonton for several years. As we grew into our teens, we would often visit during the summer holidays in order to take in the Edmonton Exhibition (2)

Just before school was out in June 1950, Mom and Dad told us our family would be moving to a large farm just outside the community of Pibrock (North of Westlock), about 100 miles north of Edmonton. Mom and Dad had both had been offered jobs, Mom as a cook and Dad as a senior farm hand.

While we would certainly miss our Uncle’s and Aunt’s in Edmonton, it turned out the move would be filled with many new adventures that would be remembered for the rest of our lives. Even my schooling (I had been promoted to Grade 3 on leaving Edmonton) would take turn for the better and demonstrate that at least some teachers, in some schools, were willing to override a strict system of rules and regulations.

Link to Next Post: Pibroch
Link to Last Post: Dad is Missing (Last of Part IV)
Link to Family Stories Index


1 On a trip back to Cold Lake in the late 1990s, I drove to our 95th Street house and found it exactly as it was in the 1950s. The real difference – the street still  ended in the same spot, but at the end of the street was a large noise suppression fence and beyond the that, the Yellow Head Highway.  Beyond the highway, Edmonton extended for many miles.

(2)  On one holiday Louise and I took to Edmonton when we were about 10 and 13, we had taken the bus to the Exhibition Grounds. We had money for several rides and almost everything we wanted to eat (mostly treats).  We both gorged ourselves and Louise became very ill and was throwing up behind a tent. Someone called and ambulance and on that day we received a ride home Uncle Al and Aunt Marcia’s (in Griesback Barracks) courtesy of the Edmonton Ambulance Service.

For a full list of McNeill Family Stories LINK HERE

More photos:

Edmonton Street Locations

Map (Web).  (Top is North): 1. Yellow Head Trail 2. Our 95 Street home  3. H.A. Gray School  4. Avenue Theatre
5. 97 Street and 111 (or 112) Avenue where “Tippy” jumped from the car. As I recall this was a wide and offset
intersection. 6. High Level Bridge from 109 Street and 83 Avenue. 7. Mink Ranch on North Saskatchewan River where dad worked.
Note: The “red square” was already on the map.

Harold McNeill and his dog Shep

Photo (by Mom, 1948, Marie Lake) Shep pulling Harold across Marie Lake (link A Winter Trip to Cold Lake)

High Level Bridge Edmonton

High Level Bridge across the North Saskatchewan River

A trip across the High Level Bridge in a street car was always a treat, but a treat Mom did not relish.  I can’t remember how Louise felt. but I expect she would have looked forward to the adventure just as I. When crossing you could look down to the river between the holes in the extensions of the ties and, as with most old railway cars, it rocked from side to side. Mom just closed her eyes. In 1951, the laststreet car crossed the High Level bringing to an end an era that began in 1908, the year our Dad was born. As I recall, vehicles travelled in the section below the rail line.

Avenue Theatre in Edmonton

The Avenue Theatre at 118 Ave and 91 Street (the fourth Odeon to open in Edmonton) was a favourite for Louise and myself. Prior to going to the Avenue Theatre, the first movie we ever attended was in Harlan in the old Community Hall (Movie Night in Harlan). Now we had a real theatre. The Saturday matinees were a must and I shall never forget “The Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland (made in 1939) on the silver screen. It was thrilling.


Photo (Web)  The Wilkinson Road Jail in Victoria (about ten blocks from our home). It would be difficult to distinguish between the H.A. Gray School and this Jail, although I do not recall bars on the windows and razor wire on the fence at H.A. Gray.



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Comments (9)

  • Marilyn Jeffrey
    October 14, 2013 at 2:54 pm |

    Harold this is really interesting to read. My grandmother was Evelyn Roske Wheeler.

    • Harold McNeill
      October 15, 2013 at 8:49 am |

      Glad you enjoyed Marilyn. Just finishing up the last 10 years which will take the stories through High School and into the work world.

  • Bernadette
    October 22, 2013 at 3:38 pm |

    The past several weeks, I have read many of your stories.
    I was very impressed with your Mother’s biography. Life wasn’t easy forladies in that era.

    • Harold McNeill
      October 22, 2013 at 4:03 pm |

      Dear Bernadette. So glad you found the blog and a few stories that were of interest. Do you remember your University of Alberta paper “The Enterprise System in Alberta” (he, he). Maybe you should pull it out and publish on the blog. Ah, running this blog has given me the immense pleasure by being able to post some of the history of our family, relatives and friends going back to Dad’s birth in 1908. Have met up with a lot of High School friends on Facebook of the past few years.

  • Robina
    January 29, 2014 at 6:35 pm |

    I really have enjoyed your stories about Marie Lake, photos & Cold Lake. My dad is a Martin & my Mom a Savard from back then. Maybe you can guess who? I really like the history that you have portrayed, thanks so much.

  • Arthur Close
    July 31, 2014 at 12:30 am |

    We would have been neighbours and I am a bit embarrassed at having no recollection of your family. My family lived at 12209-95 st (1944 to 1960) and 12205-95 st (1960 to 2005).

    I also attended H A Gray school for most of my grades 1 to 9 (1947 to 1956) with grades 5 and 6 at Delton.

    You mention Mable Pester. She was my aunt. There was a cluster of Hardy family members in the area — Mable, my mother (Geneva) and the David Hardy and Forrest Hardy families across the street from you. And across the alley on 95A st was their sister Maranda and on 96 st. Janie.

    I live near Vancouver now but the area holds a lot of memories. More than I can share in this brief note. Maybe another time.

  • Dave Cassels
    March 16, 2019 at 1:55 pm |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

    • Harold McNeill
      March 19, 2019 at 5:29 pm |

      Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

Leave a comment



  • Mike Fedorowich

    September 1, 2023 |

    I have gone through the above noted text and have found it quite informative.
    I am a former member with several law enforcement agencies from across Canada.
    I worked in the First Nations service under the authority of the RCMP with the over sight of the OPP. My law enforcement service was conducted under the authority of the Nishnawbe – Aski Police Service in North West Ontario the Louis Bull Police Sevice in Hobbema AB, the Kitasoo Xaixais Police Service in Northern in side passage on Swindle Island, the Lac Suel Police Service North West Ontario and the Vancouver Transit Authority Sky Train Police Service. I’m presently dealing with an RCMP member for falsifying a report against me for a road rage event. Court case is finished and the charge was dropped but I have an on going complaint with the member and have forwarded to the WATCH DOGS IN OTTAWA FOR the RCMP review and consideration. I believe the said officer is in violation of his oath of office and should be held accountable for falsifying his RTCC all the while dragging me through the court system here in Nanaimo. RCMP continue to stonewall the appeal but Ottawa and the crowns office are still looking into the matter. if your able and find the time or the interest in this very brief introduction, I would very much like to speak with you and would be grateful to hear any wisdom that may come across from your end. I served with First Nations Police Services for ten years in isolation and six years with Transit Police out of New West Minster. I do value and appreciate any time you could spare to chat for a bit on this particular subject matter. Respectfully with out anger but an open mind, Mike Fedorowich Nanaimo BC 250 667 0060

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email:

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.